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Celebrating Friends and Family Day

By Laura Hall
July 2010

Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D.
"We've had to postpone the softball game which many of us were really looking forward to. It is just too hot," said Birnbaum. "Any of the outside activities today are water related." (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Bill Jirles
Bill Jirles, center, has obviously made a trip to the hat-making booth. His children are firing their water pistols while they cool off in one of the wading pools set out on the patio to provide some heat relief. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Rocky Iwashima
Rocky Iwashima performs traditional Japanese Taiko drumming. Invited to help celebrate Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, he and his wife, Yoko Iwashima, are two members of the local Triangle Taiko group. The celebration of Friends and Family Day and Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month were combined this year. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Chris Long, left, paints a design on the arm of a young girl, center, as mom Ritu Rana helps out.
Chris Long, left, paints a design on the arm of a young girl, center, as mom Ritu Rana helps out. Long considers himself an experienced face painter. "With a son and daughter now in their 20s, I've painted many a face at birthday parties," he said. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Friends and Family Days have always been hot, but this year's event on June 23 broke the record for NIEHS. The blistering 99 degree heat and Code Orange air quality - unhealthy for sensitive groups - resulted in the cancellation of the afternoon softball competition and drove many of the contests indoors. Nevertheless, the sweltering heat did not stop the fun - or the celebration of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage.

NIEHS/NTP Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., welcomed the celebrants and explained that this year, Friends and Family Day was combined with the NIEHS Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month commemoration. She urged the attendees to sample the ethnic food, view the exhibits, and enjoy the music of the traditional Japanese Taiko Drummers, as well as take part in the games and play.

Birnbaum also cautioned everyone about the heat. "It's so hot today. It is also a Code Orange day, which means you shouldn't exert yourself too much outside," she said. However, no degree of heat was going to stop the popular cake walk.

While the 23 cakes remained cool inside, the many contestants walked on the patio under tents hoping they would win one. The game is somewhat like musical chairs - music is played while the contestants walk around over numbered patio paving squares. When the music stops, those on numbered squares have a chance to win a cake if the number they are standing on is the same one pulled out of a container.

Outside, the children enjoyed the sprinkler and wading pools of water. The goose egg hunt was open to adults, but eagle-eyed children found the eight plastic eggs hidden in the bushes within the planters surrounding the patio. Each child won a prize and uncovered a fact about the lake. At the lake itself, catch-and-release fishing was the featured activity.

There were also booths for face painting, party hats, and the Environmental Protection Agency, which, ironically, displayed electron microscope pictures of various air pollutants.

The competitive spirit came out in the bingo games as well as the limbo and hula hoop contest. Gary Bird, who emceed the contests, also encouraged people to take part in karaoke. In all, there were many happy prize winners.

(Laura Hall is a biologist in the NIEHS Laboratory of Toxicology and Pharmacology currently on detail as a writer for the Environmental Factor.)

Clyde Hasty, center, proved he was a serious contender in the hula hoop marathon, as Dona McNeill cheered him on.
Clyde Hasty, center, proved he was a serious contender in the hula hoop marathon, as Dona McNeill cheered him on. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

This quartet, made up of daughters of employees and family friends, had a great time singing a favorite song, 'Party Girl' by Miley Cyrus.
This quartet, made up of daughters of employees and family friends, had a great time singing a favorite song, "Party Girl" by Miley Cyrus, during their karaoke session. After allowing others a turn, they came back for another song. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)



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